Amazon Luna – the new gaming service makes its market debut
In case Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime Video/Music, and Amazon Alexa weren’t enough Amazon for you yet, you can add a new service to your repertoire – the brand-new Amazon Luna service. Like Google Stadia before it, Amazon is now trying its hand at an on-demand gaming service.
The competition in this market segment is already big, as new gaming-as-a-service providers are popping up left right and center. What is interesting is that this battle reminds us of the good old battle of streaming services from years past. With all of big tech now involved, we are yet to find out who will be the Netflix of cloud gaming.
What is Amazon Luna?
The short answer is – a cloud gaming service that lets you access games quickly and without long downloads or updates by letting you ‘stream’ the game from a cloud to your device. The Luna platform will be available on PC, Mac and mobile devices. The goal is to do all of that affordably and with low hardware requirements, as Amazon Luna promises better access to gaming for many players.
The main requirement is access to a strong and reliable internet connection – as games are streamed, they require a stable connection to the cloud.
The service supports 60FPS at 1080p at the time of its launch, with a promise that 4k would be available soon. The whole thing works on a subscription basis, where a user pays a monthly fee in order to access an entire game library and play what they want and when they want it.
The service isn’t out yet – the Amazon Luna release date isn’t official yet either. Unveiled at the end of September (after a long period of suspicion and rumors that the service was in development) the release date is currently supposed to be in October, but with only a few days of the month left to go, a delay is to be expected. At the moment, Amazon are launching a limited beta test, where a number of US Amazon customers will receive invitations to take part in the Luna trial.
They’ll also be the first to get a chance to buy the controller that Amazon is releasing along with the service. The Amazon Luna controller is NOT needed to use the service – it is merely an optional controller compatible with the system, much like Steam has released previously.
First impressions are so-so – users report that the client itself is great, but that the games themselves don’t stream well, and that they see input lag, glitches, and delays as they try to play.
What can Luna do?
The Amazon Luna games are set up in a library like you know it from Steam – and with the monthly fee paid, all games included are free to play until your subscription expires. At the time of the beta test, some 50+ games were available to play. This was a huge disappointment for players wanting to compare the service to the Google Stadia, Luna’s biggest competitor.
Stadia offers some 140+ games, though not all of them are free. Still, for a starting collection, 50 games aren’t bad, especially as they feature some relatively popular franchises like Assassins Creed, Resident Evil, Metro, and more.
The limited selection means that there isn’t much in the way of esports games on there – but Amazon are actively promising to expand their repertoire as time goes on, so eventually League, Overwatch, and Dota might just make it on the service as well – provided the publishers make a deal with Amazon.
One interesting feature is the Twitch implementation – since Amazon already owns the popular streaming platform there will be a fairly seamless integration for players and streamers alike. Screenshots from beta testers show that a button has appeared next to some games that allows them to launch the Luna service straight from Twitch.
There will also be integration with Amazon Alexa – in fact, the dedicated Luna controller will have its own Alexa button, and understand commands like “Alexa, let’s play Sonic Mania.”
What does it cost?
The default price for Amazon Luna+ as the first channel is called is $5.99 a month. Already, Amazon is preparing a second channel, featuring exclusively Ubisoft games. It will likely have its own separate price point – and each channel will also have unique restrictions – for example, while the upcoming Ubisoft channel will not allow multiple people to play on one account at a time, Luna+ does allow a user to stream on two devices at any one point.
Luna vs Stadia
The comparison between Google Stadia and Amazon Luna is an obvious one – they are very similar products. Stadia didn’t exactly have a stellar launch and faced several issues early on – Amazon Luna is hoping to avoid those problems.
The lower price is supposed to appeal to players that don’t like paying $10/month for Stadia’s selection – especially given that not all games on Stadia are free to play. An early criticism point, however, is that the servers used by the Amazon Luna aren’t as good as Stadia’s are. The EC2 G4 servers aren’t bad, but they’re not on par with what Stadia are using, meaning that there is a real chance of players experiencing issues while they play – particularly at a larger scale.
Read next: Is Cloud Gaming the Future of Esports?